Canada's McIntosh, Mac Neil win World Cup gold, American Ledecky sets world record

TORONTO — Canada's Summer McIntosh and American Katie Ledecky weren't sure what to expect in their first competitive event of the season at this week's FINA Swimming World Cup.

The off-season rest apparently served them well. Both are already in record-breaking form.

McIntosh set a world junior mark in the women's 400-metre medley while Ledecky set a world record in the 1,500 freestyle on Saturday night at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre.

"I knew that record was within reach just based on some things I've done in training, especially my distance stuff (as it) has felt really good this fall," Ledecky said. "So I felt locked into the pace."

The 10-time Olympic medallist — who doesn't compete in short-course events very often — won gold in 15:08.24, taking nearly 10 seconds off the previous record set by Germany's Sarah Wellbrock (15:18.01) in 2019.

McIntosh, who also set a world junior mark when she edged Ledecky in the 400 free on Friday, finished first in the 400 medley in 4:21.49 to lead a Canadian sweep.

"Throughout the entire race I felt really in control and strong so I'm really happy," she said.

Sydney Pickrem of Halifax was second in 4:28.45 and Bailey Andison of Smiths Falls, Ont., was third in 4:29.36.

McIntosh, a 16-year-old from Toronto, trimmed nearly two seconds off the previous world junior mark set by China's Shiwen Ye (4:23.33) in 2012.

Ledecky took gold ahead of Beatriz Dizotti of Brazil (15:48.82) and Laila Oravsky of Barrie, Ont., who was third in 16:16.86.

"It's just so unreal to be a part of something so amazing," Oravsky said. "That was the fastest 1,500 that was just swum and I was a part of that. It's crazy."

Later in the evening, Maggie Mac Neil of London, Ont., improved her national record in the women's 50-metre butterfly, finishing first in 24.75 seconds.

Kylie Masse of LaSalle, Ont., earned silver in the women's 100-metre backstroke in 56.16, about a half-second behind American Beata Nelson (55.75). Calgary's Ingrid Wilm took bronze in 56.21.

Finlay Knox of Okotoks, Alta., took silver in the men's 200-metre medley in 1:52.75 behind American Shaine Casas (1:50.37).

With eight more medals on the night, Canada boosted its overall total to 17 entering the final day of competition on Sunday.

One of the biggest roars from the near-capacity crowd came at Ledecky's finish. She splashed the water after looking up at the scoreboard to see her world-record time.

"Honestly most of that emotion was just because it hurt a lot," she said. "When something hurts that much, you want to see a great result like that. It was just mostly happiness.

"I felt good and I was very pleased with the outcome."

She returned to the pool a short time later for the 200 free and took silver in 1:52.31 behind Hong Kong's Siobhan Bernadette Haughey.

"I didn't have any super type of preparation for this meet," Ledecky said. "I just wanted to come in and race some international swimmers. These meets (Toronto and next week in Indianapolis) are on North American soil so I just had fun with it."

In other notable Canadian results, Toronto's Javier Acevedo was fifth in the men's 50-metre backstroke and Ella Jansen of Burlington, Ont., was fifth in the women's 200 free.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 29, 2022.

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Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press